Tag Archives: bedtime stories
Post by Mark T. Locker.
The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak
Word of warning to parents/readers of books to children: DON’T OPEN IT. IT’S A TRAP You will be bound to saying some very silly things out loud if you read it.
True to its title, this book has no pictures but that won’t stop kids from clamoring to have it read to them over and over. The premise of this book is that the words can be as fun as the pictures, if handled correctly. See, whoever reads the book out loud HAS to say what the words tell him to say. Even if the book makes the reader say, “I am a monkey using my monkey mouth to read!” the reader is bound by the laws of book-reading to say this out loud.
The book is basically a dialog between the reader and the mean book making him say all kinds of silly things out loud. Like:
-Wait! I didn’t want to say that! Don’t make me read any more!
I’ve read this twice in as many days to my son and he’s read it once to me so far. It’s a good concept. It reminds me of Mo Willems’s We Are In a Book! in which the characters have a moment of clarity in which they discover they are in a book and use the opportunity to make the reader say “Banana”. To kids, this is hands-down the funnies part of the whole book. Good concept to build on. I think if you are an authority figure it’s even more fun. You get to see the teacher say, “My head is made of blueberry pizza!” Definitely worth a read or six.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Arthur’s April Fool by Marc Brown
Now that my boy is such a voracious independent reader, we don’t sit and read as many picture books as we used to. Maybe that’s a shortcoming as a father. I know that some day he will just not want me to read to him again. And that will be that. Be that as it may, I wouldn’t want to have to choose between never reading to him again or reading him books from the “Arthur” series ad infinitum. There is nothing wrong with Arthur per se. He’s a nice bespectacled weasel, or aardvark, or whatever he is. Naturally, lots of low-hanging lessons to be gleaned throughout the series. Perfect for adaptation to the PBS screen for kids.
Anyways, we were away for my birthday weekend staying at the coast with friends. My boy found a box full of picture books. As it was already past bedtime, he naturally chose the longest book he could find for me to read. As is happens, it was Arthur’s April Fool. I’ve never known him to read anything from this series, but that’s fine. He cozied up to me (another thing he’ll never do again, some day) and we read about the trials and tribulations of everyone’s favorite capybara.
I don’t remember the plot much. Some bully picked on Arthur. Arthur pulled some pretty harmless practical joke on him, the ol’ kaleidoscope-gives-you-a-black-eye gag. I’m not sure what the message was for this particular installment. Revenge is a dish best served cold?
If you are looking for some decidedly wholesome and lesson-teaching picture books, these are a good choice. There are about 100 of them and they have a TV show to complement the series. Good for kids that aren’t my son’s age, probably 4.
Clariel: the Lost Abhorsen by Garth Nix.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
If you are a fan of the Old Kingdom Trilogy, you have probably been awaiting this novel with much anticipation and maybe a little bit of fear. After all, new additions to much-loved and long-completed series often promise much and deliver little. If you don’t know what the Old Kingdom it, now is a great time to find out. The original series, written by Australian fantasy/sci-fi author Garth Nix, was started in 1995 with the novel Sabriel. In this novel, and its subsequent two follow-ups, we are introduced to the world of the Old Kingdom, an ancient land of magic, necromancy, and a world still in a semi-Medieval feudal system. Across the Wall to the South, there are cars, phones, conventional weapons. Magic is mostly unheard of. None of this works beyond the Wall, which is why horseback, sword and arrow are still the norm. The kingdom is ordered around the Charter, which is a magical system which keeps order and structure. Think of it like the light side of the Force. There is also a dark side, the Free Magic used by rogue magicians and necromancers. The Abhorsen is the Charter’s answer to Free Magic. Like royalty, it is passed on in the bloodline. When an Abhorsen comes of age, he or she will wear the spelled bells and keep the dead from rising again. Creepy stuff, but important.
Clariel is set several hundred years before Sabriel. She is a fierce and fiercely independent young heir to both the Abhorsen and the royal bloodlines who wants nothing more than to live in the woods, protecting the woods and the wilderness. She is the very definition of a reluctant hero, as she and her family move to the capitol city of Belisaire in order to further her mother’s career. This book does not fail to deliver. It never tries to ride on the coattails of the previous books to carry itself and works as the first book in the series, or as a prequel to read after. Great fantasy for adults or middle-school aged kids and up.
Choose your Own Adventure: Prisoner of the Ant People by R.A. Montgomery.
Anyone who grew up in the late seventies or beyond had probably read a book by R.A. Montgomery, though they might not even know his name. The author and publisher of over 200 Choose Your Own Adventure books passed away last week at the age of 78. I have many memories of reading these unique books over and over again as a kid. Just looking at the covers of such volumes as The Cave of Time and Your Code Name is Jonah brings back floods of memories, not necessarily of the plots, as those vary with each reading and each choice bu the reader, but of the feeling of adventure and control over your own destiny as you read.
What made these books so special was the way Montgomery put the reader in the driver’s seat. Not only is it one of the few books you will find written in the second person (as in, “You walk into a room”) but at pivotal moments in the story you, the reader, must decide what to do next. Do you take it slow and explore the spaceship for the missing crew, or do you follow your gut and shrink yourself to a tiny size and look for them at the subatomic level? Choose, but choose wisely. For one decision may lead to a successful adventure but the other may lead to your demise.
My son picked out his first Choose Your Own Adventure a couple weeks ago. He picked Prisoner of the Ant People which is a weird sci-fi novel filled with Martians, disintegration rays, and talking ant “people”. I’m excited to be introducing him to this wonderful and exciting world of interactive reading. If anyone else has tried to do the same kind of bo0k, they have not succeeded. R.A. Montgomery will always hold the torch for those who want to decide whether or not to follow the Sherpa into the Yeti’s cave.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
The Search for Wondla by Tony DiTerlizzi.
I have seen this middle reader-level book floating around for a few years but hadn’t picked it up until recently. I had thought that it was going to be some kind of fantasy novel. I made this judgment based on the fact that the author co-wrote the Spiderwick Chronicles with Holly Black. Now I know more about Holly Black, I think she is the one behind the fantastical elements of those books. So I was a little surprised when I began reading and it was readily apparent that I was reading more of a sci-fi/fantasy novel. That didn’t really put me off, however. It’s a fun and engaging read nonetheless.
Eva Nine is twelve years old and has never seen the outside world, not to mention another human being. She has been raised and trained in an underground facility by a caretaker robot named, somewhat ridiculously, Muthr, which stands for Multi-utility task help robot. You can imagine, she also takes on a maternal persona. But one day, blasts from above alert them to someone-or something-is attacking and breaching the entrance. Eva Nine is forced to flee, finally putting all her training to use. Only, there’s a problem. She has been trained to survive on Earth and as far as all her fancy gadgets can tell her, nothing she encounters is Earthling. The trees are carnivorous, the birds have too many wings. Some thing are similar to Earth creatures, but on a vastly different scale. One of her first companions she meets appears to be what is known as a tardigrade, which is a microscopic water creature, but this one is enormous and communicates with her through psychic wavelengths. With her giant friend (she nicknames him “Otto”) and a fishlike humanoid named Rovander Kitt, Eva Nine and Muthr head overland to try and find out what happened to Earth, and to all the Earthlings.
Filled with action, mystery, and a bright but stubborn heroine, The Search for Wondla is a great choice for older elementary age kids. And even better, there are two more books in the series!